Justin Albert is a skater and filmmaker working for Adidas Skateboarding
Coming up as a filmmaker in San Francisco by going in and out of the city he learned how to get handle on his filmmaking but also a new way to look at the world and refine his ability to capture the amazing things he’s seen go down through his lens.
It’s clear looking at his work for Adidas he has a passion for capturing great skateboarding, he has been on some legendary skate trips and completed countless filming missions at different spots to earn his stripes as a professional.
Travelling the world with upcoming talents, seasoned pros and skate legends he’s managed to find a place to put himself in every single scenarios and he’s still hyped hitting the streets to grab some gold on his camera at every chance he can get. So after meeting him years before he worked for the three stripes we were stoked to reconnect with him and finally make him a member of The No Comply Network and talk about the creative work he’s made.
Read Justin’s interview to find what it was like to find a foothold on skating and a handle on filmmaking, San Francisco, making his first skate video Hella, moving to San Jose, The Tilt Mode Army, Enjoi, Louie Barletta, Carson Lee, meeting Mark Suciu, living with Ben Raemers, The Ben Raemers Foundation, filming in London, Kyron Davis, Jake Harris, Chris Mann, Ben Rowles getting hired by Adidas, travelling the US and around the world filming, Away Days, Meeting Snoop Dogg, editing Chewy Cannon and Benny Fairfax’s Palace x Adidas Originals part, Tyshawn, Nakel Smith, filming with The Gonz, filming for Mark Suciu’s epic Verso part, his new Thrasher series Flora featuring Lil Dre, John Dilo and his favourite moments along the way
Read the Justin Albert Member interview below to find out for yourself.
Nothing crazy, just working on footage for upcoming projects.
Cool, the last time I saw you was in London at a Long Live Southbank Adidas event
Yeah, that was back in 2017.
Yeah, I remember Chewy was there
Yup I was with Nestor Judkins and Mark Suciu. It was a really good crew. Yeah Adidas does loads of events, that one in particular was really dope. The shoe box that resembled the ledge at Southbank was a nice touch.
Everyone wanted the box that looked like the cheese block
Yeah, it had perfect dimensions compared to the real thing.
So did you grow up in San Francisco?
I grew up about thirty minutes outside of the city, in a town called Hayward.
What’s the name of the area you grew up in?
It’s called Hayward. It’s a small suburb, it’s nice, very middle class suburb of the city. Pretty humble beginnings I guess.
What was it like growing up in Hayward?
It was definitely quiet out there. You were always close enough to the city though; you could take the train up to SF and scope things out at an early age. That’s what made it sick; having access to that and being able to gain perspective on city life versus being in the suburbs.
So you had that mixture of the two
Yeah, a decent amount of exposure to the city but I was mostly just out in the burbs.
Yeah so many iconic SF spots, like Hubba Hideout and Pier 7…
The list goes on….
Pier 7 is so iconic, you’d know it from just a silhouette of it
Seems like every city block in SF has a history within skating.
Speaking of skate history, when did you start to skate?
I started skating around 2003-2004. My parents got my brother and I a board as kids but it wasn’t until high school that I became more into skating.
What was the first skate video that you saw?
It was the Emerica video, Kids in Emerica. The tour video?
Yeah, that’s kind of random but that was the first one.
Amazing. That was a banging video.
Jon Miner made that one. When you see something put together as an experience it can have more of an impact and I feel like Kids in Emerica opened my eyes to certain aspects of skating that I hadn’t tapped into before.
It’s funny your first skate video was a tour video
Yeah exactly. It wasn’t really in a traditional skate video format. It wasn’t like This is Skateboarding.
Yeah, Emerica had a very strong visual aesthetic at the time
It felt authentic. They picked the right music. I hadn’t seen anything as put together as those videos before and it tripped me out!
What other videos made an impact on you back then?
How long were you skating before you started to film skating?
For about a year. I got hooked pretty quickly into the filming side of things.
That’s quite a while, kids now can film themselves from day one
They’re all filmers. They all have production studios in their pockets. I felt like I had a natural progression into the filming side of things. I didn’t really put much thought into it initially, I just happened to have the camera.
Then once I started doing, it I was like oh – this is what I should be doing I really like this. I loved to document my friends and get them stoked and it gave me something to get absorbed into. It just engaged me as a young kid, I was going out all the time and being about excited doing it.
For sure, it gives you a boost to go out and travel
It got me out of my house for sure.
You felt like you were doing something different. Just lurking in a parking lot or some other random place that you’d never go otherwise. It was rad.
Bet that was fun, what was your filming like?
I didn’t know how to operate the camera really. With my first camera, most of the things I filmed were on auto I’m pretty sure. I only really new how press record. I didn’t know basic camera functions like white balance, aperture and shutter speed I was just hitting record and looking through the camera.
Yeah, it’s all about experimentation and trying stuff out
Like it was almost like not even premediated. At least how it felt for me. We never thought about what we were doing. It was a primal sort of thing.
My friends were too nice to me back then, they never hated on my filming, even though it was trash.
Support group filming
Yeah, I think they were just stoked to have somebody filming you know? Yeah it creates a pretty intense bond.
So after honing your skills and getting a better handle on the camera, when did you make your first video?
I made a homie video called “Hella” in 2007.
Hella, that sounds sick, why did you call it that?
Hella? It’s just slang that originated in the Bay Area. It’s been in our vocabulary forever and we just rolled with that.
If you listen to Bay Area Hip Hop, you hear the word a Hella lot though.
Sometimes I meet people and I say that and they’re like what does that mean? I don’t even realise anymore.
How long was Hella?
It was like a 25 minute video.
Who had parts in the video?
No one that really skates anymore, or came up. Local East Bay heads . They’re all keeping it pretty casual those dudes. Most of them have jobs and families and stuff now.
It’s amazing that you put it together.
Dude it’s so cool in retrospect I was motivated enough to capture a snapshot of that one to two years I was filming.
That’s heavy for a homie video
You don’t even think about. There was an opportunity for it to play at a film festival and that’s when I was like now there’s an opportunity to film it and edit it and put it out.
Sick, so you had a premier? That must have hyped you up man!
Yeah, it played at this café at this summer film festival. Yeah, dude. All my homies were stoked
So at what point did you film more established skaters in the SF scene?
After high school I enrolled into college at San Jose State University and I ended up moving up out there.
I graduated from High School and I always thought making skate videos was what got my stoked but I didn’t once consider skate filming to be a career path you know?
There was this group of transplants out there in San Jose Most of them were from the Midwest but we all started skating together a lot and that’s how I connected with Carson.
Yeah it was casual. So when did you start to take filming more seriously?
After moving to San Jose I bought a VX1000 and started just filming other dudes living out there—mostly students were in the same lane as me just going to school and skating for fun.
What were they like?
They were cool. Met some kids who were definitely pretty good. They weren’t quite sponsored skaters but they were serious about it filming clips and making videos.
Right, so you invested in a proper camera.
Yeah, so I bought a VX and that’s when I was like I want to do this, think about my filming, the quality of the footage and look at the bigger picture.
So when you got your footage together, what did you do with it?
While in SJ I started to meet a ton of skaters. The skate scene there was huge, especially at the time. All the Tiltmode Army was there. Enjoi was there. That’s San Jose. The Tiltmode dudes are kind of older but there were several generations of skaters.
Being around, having a VX, I started to connect with skaters out there. I guess when I started filming guys who were getting flowed product, I realised I could start to put together legit videos.
Yeah because the footage started to resemble edits that you’d seen
Totally. A big part of the doors opening for me was meeting this guy Carson Lee.
Who’s Carson Lee?
So he was a filmer, still is. At the time he worked for Enjoi as a filmer. We eventually had mutual friends and I feel like he kind of took me under his wing.
There was this group of transplants out there in San Jose Most of them were from the Midwest but we all started skating together a lot and that’s how I connected with Carson.
Did you film with Ben Raemers in San Jose?
Yeah. Ben and I lived together at one point. We had a sick apartment dude. He lived on the couch. If you watch that éS documentary, the one about Ben, there’s a little snapshot of our lives.
The World According to Ben Raemers that Mike Manzoori did?
Yeah. So, at that time I was living with Ben. Mike Manzoori came over and filmed it. He was at our apartment in that video.
Yeah, I started to meet people in San Jose who were really insanely good at skating, like my friend Brandon Nguyen, w who skates for Alien Workshop now.
Also guys like Mark Suciu, Jon Nguyen , Ben Raemers, Erik Deringer and Peter Raffin, all of those dudes.
We fell in with each other and became friends. Jon is one of my favourite skaters.
Yeah, he had that joint section with Jon Choi, that section was sick
Exactly. Yeah Jon Choi is a legend. When I moved to San Jose, I was aware of people like that. I was already a fan of Jon because I had seen some local videos with him in it.
They were serious, they ripped and they already had careers. So yeah, I ended filming for Tiltmode projects with skaters who were established.
What year was this?
This was around 2008-2009. I graduated High School in 2007 and I graduated from San Jose State in 2013.
I was filming with as many people as I could because I wanted to. I wasn’t trying to get on. I liked having friends who ripped at skating, documenting their tricks and making videos. I was like holy shit this is a real deal, these guys are skaters with careers and it made me care more and want to do things more properly.
So you got your white balance down at this point?
Yeah I got it down, got my videos on YouTube, kept all my batteries charged. Figured it out for the most part. I wanted to make sure my footage was on point because stuff was starting to get used.
When was the first time one of your clips was used by a big brand or a magazine?
Oh good question. I think one of the first things was a Thrasher Firing Line of Mark Suciu.
What was the line?
It was an incredible line at San Jose City hall. He pretty much hits everything at the spot. He starts by riding onto one rock and then Frontside 180s onto another rock. He Half Cab Flips on flat, then wallies the side of a planter. Then he back tails a wooden ledge and ends the line with a Frontside Crook Shuvit to Fakie on the final ledge.
Banging, bet that was a good day
That, then Tweak the Beef, The Enjoi Video. I had some stuff in that and then the other big thing was Carson Lee let me make a Tiltmode montage. It was a random montage. Nothing too crazy. I filmed a bunch of footage and asked him what he thought, with all of the San Jose homies.
He was like, this is cool but he wanted me to do more. He was like let’s expand it. So then he sent me a bunch of footage he had filmed for the edit.
That’s sick, that’s a big thing
Yeah, I was like oh shit, I better do this right. We made a montage for Tiltmode and that was the first stuff I filmed and put out I felt was truly legit.
It’s great to have that kind of confirmation, it’s sick that he did that.
Carson was a great mentor. It was like a mentorship I didn’t realise I was getting at the time.
He showed me how to work with skaters, how to be a proper filmer, show up on time, get to spots, go about your day and carry yourself around others. He taught me how to invoice for clips and to work within brands in skating.
So when did you start to film with Mark Suciu a lot?
Mark and I definitely had a strong bond from the start. I met him around the time he got on Habitat and the Habitat video “Origin” had just released. He was just starting to work on “Cross Continental”
So you gravitated towards each other
Yeah, we were just both on the same wavelength. I wanted to be in the streets filming and Mark was always on a tear. Our relationship has always been super organic and I’m grateful for that.
So you gravitated towards each other
Yeah and I was going to school and these guys were living in San Jose, skating. So I was really hyped on that lifestyle I was like damn these dudes are crazy none of them are in school? Basically my whole life up till that point, I’ve just been doing what my parents were telling me to do, attended school, going to college
Yeah just ticking the boxes
I was happy to do that because it wasn’t hard to go to school and shit and skating was on the side, it was a sick thing to have on the top of that.
It’s rad you took the path you wanted, after you graduated, what did you do?
As soon as I graduated, I gravitated toward finding a job. I ended up working for a computer company called ASUS for like 6 months.
What was that like?
It was pretty awful. I was still really into filming skating at this point but having a real job really took me away from it.
Then off the clock you were going off and filming Firing Lines for Thrasher with Suciu, that’s tight
Yeah, I was filming with Mark and all those guys in San Jose off the clock.
No way. That’s cool you managed to fit in all of those
That’s kind of at the time when I met Ben then, through those transplant homies I was telling you about earlier. Like they were the younger guys when Ben came to town with Louie Barletta when he would come to San Jose and wanted him to ride for Enjoi.
I met Ben right when his Welcome to Enjoi part came out. He had just gotten on.
He was staying out there for Enjoi stuff but all of those dudes were kind of older you know?
Yeah, I mean they all ripped and skated together and Ben really loved those dudes for sure but it was like the same as having dudes who are your age you know?
Yeah the gap between 22 and 32 is a big one
Yeah, they were running businesses and had families.
Do you remember the first time that you met Ben Raemers?
I do. He had just finished getting a tattoo.
Who gave Ben the tattoo and what was it?
Yeah, it was another one of those transplant homies, Sean Goldschlager. He had a tattoo gun and he would always be giving people tattoos.
He had just gotten a tattoo of the British flag on his arm.
The thing is he came out of the room and I just remember he was being so polite.
He was like ‘Mate, can I get a glass of water’ to the homie. I was like this dudes’ a trip, he just got a tattoo, he’s super fucking polite, he’s got an English accent, and I just want to hang out with this dude
Sure enough soon after that moment we all became really good friends.
Within two years we were living together. He would obviously be back and forth when he went on his travels but for a good year he stayed on our couch.
There were four of us in the apartment, one dude was living in the kitchen, Ben was on the couch and me and my homie shared a room.
Yeah Ben always wanted to be in The US when he was in the UK, did he always miss home when he was in America?
Yeah that’s Ben in a nutshell.
Yeah he cared a lot about people
We had a strong bond. Same mindset, trying to get it, trying to get clips, he was in his prime; he got that Thrasher cover when he was living in the apartment.
Which one, The Invert?
Yeah, that one.
That was a fucking cool photo, what’s your favourite thing about Ben’s skating?
Ben Raemers could skate everything. He was obviously a beast on transition he could skate big rails. He was an ATV with a lot of style. Grant Taylor levels of style. Yeah, doing tricks on fucked up spots nobody could touch.
What’s your favourite trick by Ben Raemers that you filmed of him?
I filmed Ben Melon Grab over Louie Barletta while he Crailslides below him at this old skatepark in San Jose. That was always stands out to me.
On a board Ben had powerful style but was the mellowest dude off his board.
His skate style didn’t really reflect his personal style. You could see his personality thorough his skating, the goofiness for sure but he’s a pretty gnarly individual compared to how softly spoken he usually was you know?
Yeah, a lot of people who are gnarly, skate that way but Ben was different
Yeah it didn’t match up as well with Ben in that way.
Filming and getting to know Ben was really a blessing. Such a key person who really affected me and made me love everything I love about skating.
Yeah, since he’s passed the Ben Raemers foundation has started in his name and it’s made a huge momentum and shows how much impact he had on people he met when he was alive.
Yeah, he left an impact on everyone he spent more than five minutes with.
When you lived with Ben, you’d finished university?
I was on my year about to graduate, the end of my college career more or less
So you got a regular job?
Yeah so I got a job in marketing for a company called ASUS. I fell into working for this tech company, in social media and marketing basically. Even though I didn’t get a degree in marketing and had a degree in Journalism my skillset fell into that.
Yeah they make computers.
They literally do everything you can think of in computers, motherboards, graphic cards they are like a Taiwanese Apple.
So it was a pretty corporate job?
Yeah. It was income but it pretty depressing.
What pulled you back into skating?
Skating never went away. It justI had to use my time more wisely at this point.
The marketing job was 8pm-6pm, 5 days a week; it was a proper cubicle grind.
What were you working on at this time?
I did that and I was still filming.
At this time Mark and I were working on Cityscape – an all-night time edit for Slap that we produced together. Yeah so as you can see we’re filming a lot at night but a big part of that reason was because I was working in the day.
Yeah so you made it around your schedule but it made a nice aesthetic for the video
Yeah so obviously we happened to have a lot of night time footage in San Jose at night.
So I was like let’s make an edit and shape it into something. Go downtown at 6-7pm into the night and go ham. We just started stacking all of this night time footage whilst I was also working full-time.
You seem to be good at multi-tasking. How do you manage everything?
Yeah I mean it’s a hard question because I feel like, in retrospect you don’t even realise these things you just go through the motions I was just doing whatever my body wanted me to do.
All this stuff I filmed I found that I needed to be there and I just made time to make it happen. When it comes down to it, your body is going to want do stuff that makes you happy.
There wasn’t stuff that was restricting me. I mean obviously there was school, work and stuff but there’s always an end to that.
It starts and stops and in-between you will always have time to do stuff if you’re motivated and at this time all my homies were getting it and that motivated the shit out of me.
So this was in 2012, you were all motivated but were you getting paid for your footage or relying on your job
I was completely relying on my job.
At this point I’d done stuff for Tiltmode, Enjoi Thrasher, and a couple Deluxe things and other random companies. But it was never a source of income though.
So what happened with that job?
I worked in the marketing job for 9 months it was cubicle hell.
Found another marketing gig in SF since I wanted to transition to the city from San Jose and worked this other job for like 3 months.
As a leeway job.
It wasn’t a good fit.
I don’t know why they hired me but they did. I was there for three months but then they let me go because the writing was kind of on the wall.
What did you do when you left?
As soon as I got laid off I hit up Mark and he was travelling round Europe with Habitat – He was going on tonnes of skate trips.
It had lined up to where he was planning on being in London for 3 weeks and I decided to tap in on what would be my first international skate trip
It was like a parallel reality meeting all of these people who are so similar to you but on the other side of the world.
It was also sick travelling with my friend Jazz, he’s also Mark’s childhood friend too.
Where did you stay?
Mark and Julian stayed with Jake Harris – Jake was working on the Eleventh Hour at the time.
The first two days of the trip were really stressful because I didn’t know where we were staying. I had a suitcase and shit, I wasn’t really prepared really. But for the first day, we wondered around for super long and then we dropped our bags of at Slam in Covent Garden in the basement. We went straight there from the airport.
Where was Mark?
I met Mark and he said we didn’t know where we staying. I was like fuck it we’ve got to roll with the punches.
Ben had picked me up from the airport so he was with us. So for a day in London we were figuring out where to go.
We stayed with Ben’s girlfriend for one night in East London, then the next night, we had no idea where we staying but then he got in touch and he was like hit these guys up
Ben Raemers in London: Shot by Justin
We stayed with Ben’s girlfriend for one night in East London, then the next night, we had no idea where we staying but then he got in touch and he was like hit these guys up
Who was it?
It was like Chris and Ben Rowles when they lived in Aldgate. So we grabbed our bags from Slam and then went and stayed with those dudes.
We immediately clicked, dropped our bags off in their sketchy old apartment, they had mice but we were so hyped to drop our bags off and go skate in London.
Where did you go?
Then we went to Clapham Junction and skated those Clockwork Orange banks that are on the Wandsworth Roundabout. The first trick we filmed was Jazz’s 50-50 on the bar at that spot, the day we realised we had a place to stay and it was all chill.
That was when the vibes became super high.
That Switch Ollie Julian did was amazing.
Yeah he did a Switch Ollie over a 4 stair into a bank and Mark does a Frontside 180 into it.
Skating Pimlico station, that pyramid ledge spot, I just kind of fell in love with the city, the spots and the people,
That trip solidified my love for travel and made me want to travel all of the time.
What was going through your mind?
At this point, it flipped a switch in my head about travelling and skating and at that point I wanted to film all the time but I wasn’t thinking it was a possibility still but my mind was telling me no, you have to have a normal construct of a life and filming will always be there and you have to make time for it and I have to be an adult and have a career and make money and shit.
Soon as I got back from London I was skating with my homies back in San Jose. I had no job, no prospect. I was like whatever; I’m just going to skate and film until something happens.
About a week after I got back, I got a call from the guys who run the local skate shop called Atlas…
Where is Atlas?
It’s a shop I’ve associated since it opened in 2007, it’s in San Mateo, which is connected by a bridge from Hayward where I grew up, and they gave me a ring.
What’s that shop about?
Atlas is great shop, super clean, they are all about attention to detail, and they run a tight ship. Everything is well put together.
If I can be associated with a skate shop in the Bay Area that’s the one, you know, that’s my local even though it wasn’t in the town that I grew up in.
San Mateo and San Jose are pretty far, so it took me an hour drive to get to Atlas but Atlas is in-between SF and San Jose so whenever we went to the city we’d got to San Mateo, get what we needed and go.
At this point we had a pretty strong relationship, I just finished this edit – the Columns and Cobblestones and I gave it to them. Essentially, to have as a video for them.
Atlas is a sick name for a skate shop and I’ve seen their edits pop up over the years and I saw Julian had a sick part with them too.
Mark has always worn their gear over the years. No surprise there, Julian is one of the most slept on skaters in the bay. He’s kind of mysterious, he’s cool.
Rolling with Atlas, going through San Jose to San Mateo to San Francisco, in late 2012, you had that call, so what happened?
Yeah so I got that call from Atlas. There are two guys who run the shop Mike Manidis and Ryen Motzek, they are business partners and run it. And it was Mike and he was like, Hey dude, these guys at Juice Design called about you.
Juice is this creative agency from San Francisco, I was already aware of who they were, they’ve been doing all of the outward facing marketing for Adidas at that time since 2006, since the launch of the brand, all the marketing, visual content, anything from Videos, photos, the website, Juice Design was doing all of that.
So Mike calls, me and basically lets me know that Juice was reaching out looking for a video editor to work on a last minute editing project.
I was like you don’t have to tell me twice, give me this dude’s number!
So I called them up it and it was Matt Irving, a creative director who at the time was running Juice Design. He said straight up we’d love for you to come in for one day to pull together this emergency edit, the guys at Atlas speak highly of you so it would be cool if you can do this edit for us and we’ll pay you, so come in to our studio in SF and do this edit if you can.
So the next day I drove up there from San Jose I went into the office and I was blown away.
What did Juice Design look like at the time?
The studio was just really clean, big windows with a lot of light. Way more inspiring then any other work environment I’d been in prior. As soon as I walked up there I was like this is where I want to work.
Juice Design Office in San Francisco: Shot by Justin
Sounds like you were impressed
It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
All the people who worked there were graphic designers, creatives, just rad people with substance.
Sounds dope, how did the day go?
So I went in for the one day, they wanted a highlight reel of all of the big Adidas projects that year, so they wanted 4-5 edits put into one big hype reel, it was all internal, nobody outside of Adidas was going to see it.
What was in that hype reel?
The black and white New York City edit they had done that year, the Madrid campaign and a bunch of snowboarding stuff.
I guess it was a demo for your skills and a hype reel
Yeah, my workflow, how efficiently I could pull stuff together. I gave it to them by the end of the day.
Worked with them creatively, I came in at ten and by noon I had something to show them, and I was taking creative direction and implementing it and by six o’ clock it was done
So you handled it?
Yeah I handled it. It was right up my alley dude.
Essentially it was music over skate footage that’s my shit. No voice over, It was just about the feeling you get when watch the skate video, what are you trying to elicit? How are you combining the visuals and the audio?
Right, you brought all the raw stuff together and made it as appealing as you can and make them proud of their current team and work?
I went into there super excited and rightly so, it was a full DNA match, I was like this is my lane. When your passion and work intersect, it’s what you want.
It’s cool to hear your behind the scenes of how you got that opportunity, sounds like it went down really organically. And you delivered it.
There was no job application, no screening process.
How did they offer you the job at Adidas?
Matt called me up two weeks after that day I did the hype reel.
He explained to me that he thought I was a good fit for some projects he had in mind. Then he put me on what was essentially a snowboard documentary series.
So at this time, Adidas was launching Adidas Snowboarding. Which was a bunch of boots and apparel. The main guy at Juice he was a snowboard filmmaker
So there wasn’t a video guy there at the time that was skate focused which was a positive for me. But then he was getting overwhelmed by snowboard projects – there were only 4 people there at the time.
There were 5 snowboarders on Adidas at the time and he had to make a documentary about each one of them.
Yeah five documentaries is a lot.
That’s a lot of interviews, footage tracking, filming and editing.
Snowboarding is crazy
Yeah so they hired me for three months as an assistant editor on these snowboarding docs.
Going through interviews, editing, timecodes, lot of busy work, just stuff that needed to get in to make editing these documentaries a little more streamlined.
So I was like fuck yeah. I get off the unemployment I get a contract with Juice and I start coming in every day Monday to Friday starting at 10 to do these snowboarding edits and at this point my foot was in the door.
Your boot was in the door.
Yeah exactly but I didn’t know anything about snowboarding.
But snowboarding has some similarities to skateboarding
Yeah it was relatable in some way to skating, people with crazy lifestyles and personalities but it’s just on the snow.
Snowboarders seem to appropriate so much shit from skating and they know where they got it from, they know skating is cool and they take a lot of shit from skating and bring it into their culture.
Cardiel was rad at snowboarding
I was hyped to be working on that snowboarding stuff – I love skating that was the main driving factor, I love skate tricks – but learning how to edit videos on proper machines, workflow all that nerdy stuff about being a cinematographer – I was hyped, I got to experience that first hand, that was my first taste of structured video production, so that side of it was fun.
So when did you start shooting skate footage for Adidas?
So Matt Irving was no stranger to my background as a skate filmer.
I shared that Columns and Cobblestones edit with him and he knew I filmed with Mark and we had a history filming in San Jose – He knew I wanted to film skateboarding and knew what I was working towards.
He was working on a lot of the skate stuff and so I was hearing more about the skate side of stuff at adidas.
I think by the second month, he called me into his office and was like;
“Hey man, I want to take you on this campaign shoot with Adidas skateboarding!”
So I got there and met them all and introduced myself and was using their cameras to film, I had my own shit but for all the fish eye shit, I got to use Torsten and Dan’s camera. It was a trip – those guys are legends.
Had you met either of them before? Must have been sick to meet Dan Wolfe
Dan was pretty chill. He’s kind of quiet. I still don’t know Dan that well. He was soft spoken and chill and encouraged me to do my thing which allowed me to get comfortable.
He was just stoked I was hyped to film. I filmed a lot of on that trip, trying to prove myself.
What about Torsten?
Torsten was really personable and funny and nice, totally cool and happy to work with me and excited to collaborate. I love Torsten.
How did you feel?
I came out of my shell, I was in my element.
You had been editing snowboarding so you were keen to film some skating
That’s when I realised; I I think have a career in skateboarding as a filmmaker.
Yeah sounds like it was a heavy trip
It was pretty much the entire team.
Yeah Mark, your homie was there
Mark was like yeah, you did it! You’re on an Adidas trip!
Was there a trick in the Pacific Northwest edit you filmed that you were stoked on?
Rodrigo Frontside Flipped this bump to bar. We were just driving in the van and we saw it so we stopped, it was one of those things. Just a random bump to bar on the side of the street and then he did the most magnificent Frontside Flip I’ve ever seen over it. Just a proper fully tweaked, levelled-out Frontside Flip right over the bar.
Just amazing textbook Rodrigo Frontside Flip. That was just so sick man…
Rodrigo is next level
Yeah I was like this guy is fucking steezing. When he’s trying something he’s going to land it, he just gets better with age.
Was that your first time skating with Dennis Busenitz?
I met Dennis on that Pacific Northwest Adidas trip. Now Dennis and I are really good friends. I went to his house in Sebastopol recently; he has a barn and a skate park. I was out there working on some Adidas stuff for a shoe he’d put out. We’re good friends.
We film all the time and I’ve made video parts of Dennis. That’s a whole other story. Just having that relationship with Busenitz was insane. I can just text that dude and be like do you want to go out and skate?
What’s it like filming Dennis? Busenitz is the best! He’s a legend right there.
He pushes so quickly
That’s like the main stereotype of filming Dennis that people will ask me, they usually say it must be so hard to film Dennis, what’s it like to film him skating fisheye? It is pretty hairy man I’m not going to lie.
It looks it man; he gets in 3-4 pushes where most would get in 1 or 2.
There’s one line he does where he does some of his most famous iconic mini pushes. It’s one of my favourite lines of Dennis.
He rolls up a bank does a Kickflip back lip on a curb, slides the shit out of it, it’s so sick, then he lifts his truck back into the bank, rolls down the bank, then he does a Nollie flip on flat, no push proper Nollie Flip, then he takes like 5 micro pushes, in like two seconds, then he does like a beautiful Nollie Cab Flip on the bank, it just encompasses his skating for me. It’s in Away Days.
Yeah, that was a banging line
Yeah and I filmed the line after it. That was a cool two piece of my footage right there.
So what happened after that first trip?
So that three city trip tour ended, in Portland, where the Adidas headquarters was and where they wanted the team to finish up there and come in for meetings.
I remember being on that tour and everyone was feeling good about the footage that we got and on that tour, on one of the last nights of the trip, we were having sick dinners every night and everyone was in good spirits at the end of the days usually.
I remember it was one of these nights and being out with Matt reflecting on the trip and thanking him for the opportunity to be out there and he was out there with Jascha Mueller, who had a lot to do with Away Days, it was like he and Matt’s baby they wanted to do a full-length video the whole time and it was during that time Away Days becoming a reality with the brand, it wasn’t a reality yet…but signs were pointed towards doing a full-length video.
So Matt was comfortable enough to tell me and he was saying you killed it on this trip, you’re doing really good and I just wanted to let you know that if we’re potentially going to do this full length video – Away Days – you’re going to have this retainer to film for it and film and do edit work at Juice to make it.
So they offered you a full-time gig?
At that point it was already kind of approaching that, they we extending my contract every month but this is when they wanted me to work for them as a skate filmer on this full-length project that would become Away Days. So when they told me that, I was like that’s fucking heavy and it was at that moment I realised I’m actually doing this as a career now.
That’s an amazing moment
So from that point I started filming for Away Days and everything else that they could throw at me. My first international skate trip with Adidas, two months after that Pacific Northwest trip, was a South America tour. I went to Buenos Aires in Argentina, Santiago, Chile and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Filming demos, street skating and filming stuff for ads for other projects so I was working on 4-5 different things on every other trip and that’s when they got me travelling and going on tonnes of skate trips.
@rodrigotx , Wallride, Adidas South America Tour: Shot by Justin
I guess your talent for multitasking came in handy at that point
Some of those demos were crazy. I never grew up going to demos. I just grew up filming with my friends. I never did any of that.
But these demos were insane. We’d pull up and there’d just be faces, face of kids. The van door would open and there would just be kids surrounding the van and quite frankly it was like going back to Kids of Emerica, hundreds of kids were there.
So I’m there filming Lucas doing a trick over the hip with a stadium full of people watching and I’m like holy fuck, this is a completely different side of skating right now.
Yeah, a totally different spectator style of skating. Whose part in Away Days did you film the most for?
Obviously, I was a good fit to work for Mark for that. Mark was a key dude they wanted me to film. But a lot of those Away Days trips were different smatterings of the team, going to different places. So I had my hand in filming a little bit of everyone.
Did you film much of Chewy?
Yeah, I went on some sick trips with Chewy, went to Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and filmed with him a bunch in London.
We went to Atlanta on a really cool southern American road trip. Somewhere where Chewy was a real fish out of water and it was totally rad to hang out with him on those trips.
What was it like filming and skating with Chewy for Away Days?
Chewy is so spontaneous as a skater. With Chewy it’s more of an experience. He’s so much more than just his skating.
Yeah he’s a larger than life kind of dude.
The most memorable thing I’ve worked on with Chewy was the very first Palace Adidas collab video featuring him and Benny Fairfax. I pretty much made that video, taking creative direction with Matt Irving and collaborating with Lev Tanju from Palace Skateboards.
Yeah, it felt organic to Adidas and Palace, How’d it come together and what did you film?
It was mainly Torsten and I and one of the main Palace filmers at the time, I can’t fully remember which Palace filmer, maybe it was Morph, it could have been someone else who contributed a lot too.
Alongside a little bit of Chris Mulhern and some stuff from Adidas trips that Benny and Chewy would send to us when they were back home.
It came together pretty organically, because they were launching that big collab with Adidas Originals which was the first one; now they are huge, people now really look forward to them The fact that Palace was doing it with Adidas Originals and not Adidas Skateboarding was a big deal.
Why is that?
Yeah, that’s two different brands. Adidas skateboarding is skateboarding and Adidas Originals is Adidas Originals you know? The collabs are always through Adidas Originals. It’s a technicality but most people person would assume it’s with Adidas Skateboarding but its with Adidas Originals.
It’s good to make the distinction. So the edit combines HD and VHS footage, it looks sick. How did you make it?
That was a lot of fun. We shot the whole video digital. There are no VHS cameras used in this edit, it’s all digital but what we did, we made the edit so it had a clean HD look for the most part.
But then what we did was recorded it onto a blank VHS tape and then digitised it, using a tape deck and some converters using some programs we found and then we made it look VHS by reverse digitising it. Usually you take VHS and digitise it but on this we did it with HD.
Yeah and then we had two versions of it. The VHS version and cleaner HD versions.
Then we were basically experimenting with which direction we wanted to go, some of us wanted to go whole VHS, or like do we want this whole thing to go HD. But we ended up going for a middle ground.
Why was that?
Lev was like I want these guys to have a HD part. Because VHS at that point was basically Palace’s thing and if it was totally VHS it would have been too much of a Palace thing if it had had a VHS look. So we interspersed the visuals to go back and forth between the VHS look and HD look.
Yeah it was a smart way to pay homage to both brands
Yeah we still wanted them to have a proper HD part, and wanted the VHS stuff to be more background and cut in and out but then we used the VHS fully in the credits which I loved. I also like the music for this edit; they picked great music for this.
Do you have a favourite trick from that edit by Benny or Chewy?
It’s not the stuff that I filmed but I’m most hyped on the Philly stuff that Chewy got in the edit.
Seeing Chewy skate in LA is really cool too in it. I like his lines and stuff there.
What about Benny?
Benny had a really nice ender in there too; he does a Backside Noseblunt Pop out on this Ledge to drop to Fakie. That was one of the first edits I got to own, I enjoyed editing that but there was a lot of collaboration there – me, Matt Irving, Lev – we were all constantly talking.
Lev was giving us a lot of input into what he wanted in there and stuff. I loved that project. That was one of my favourite projects for sure.
Chewy: Shot by Justin
What was your next edit after that?
The next one I did was this edit featuring this Brazilian skater called Klaus Bohms, it was an Adidas edit, nothing too crazy. They had budget to do a custom video part for him, they flew him out to the Bay Area, to film a few times, we stacked clips on a couple Adidas trips together and then that pretty much became his international team video part.
He’s dope. That was the first edit that I really got to drive. I worked with Klaus, picked the music and created the edit on that one. It was a lower key project. I got good feedback and I was happy to handle the edit. After that it was the Palace stuff and some assorted smaller project but they were the ones that stuck out for me.
So this was all pre-Away Days
Yeah Away Days didn’t even have a name yet. We just knew we were saving footage for it. There were a lot of trips going on and we just got footage on all top of that and we just started to stack and that was the beginning of Away Days.
Adidas team tour photo by Justin
Away Days was heavily anticipated
Yeah there was so much hype behind the video.
Did you film with Daewon and Marc Johnson for Away Days?
For Away Days not so much. They way that they rolled it out was pretty conceptual. They had Daewon and Marc driving around in that drop top and meeting up at a skate spot. They had the budget and wanted to do some crazy shit and they wanted it to be a pretty conclusive one-session vibe. They weren’t filming for the video parts but I was in the trenches, filming dudes for their video parts like Busenitz and Silas. .
Yeah, they came in after the project had started
That conversation happened in the final months of the video, it was all a developing thing. I started working with MJ and Daewon way after the video. We did a couple more trips with them and MJ came to SF and we filmed for a Spitfire thing.
What’s it like filming with Marc Johnson?
MJ and I got a long pretty good because we have tonnes of mutual friends through me living in San Jose. I Iike his vibe. He’s a quirky interesting guy.
He’s got a creative way of skating
Absolutely. Its super well thought out I think.
So how was it doing more work for Adidas on Away Days?
Away Days was huge, it was four years of filming, and that’s how I really fell into the routine of professional filmmaking. I never worked that hard before in my life. The output of Juice Design was an insane amount of work for the amount of people they had working there and we were all busting our asses’ non-stop.
What about Snoop Dogg in Away Days, did you get to meet him?
Yeah I did get to meet Snoop Dogg.
I wasn’t there for that particular shoot but I was there when they set up that shoot. One day Matt hit me up and he said we’re flying out LA – don’t ask why. I was like okay? That’s a 40 minute flight I was like that should be cool, it’s not a big deal.
Then the day he was like we’re going to Snoop Dogg’s compound in LA. Snoop and Mark Gonzales were meeting each other about doing a collaboration and he was like yeah we want you to be there to film their meeting.
That’s where I met Snoop Dogg, it was random and cool
What was it like filming Snoop Dogg and The Gonz for the day?
It was a trip man; being in the same meeting room with them and watching them interact. I was just trying to be a fly on the wall. Because I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way I was hyper aware of what I was doing because I was like damn this is Mark Gonzales and Snoop Dogg in a meeting right now and Snoop is just rolling up a blunt.
He was pretty laidback; this wasn’t a tense CEO meeting. Mark came in and gave Snoop Dogg some glasses and then Snoop Dogg, gifted him something, it was just a really cool experience. Watching two mega celeb legends meet each other.
They had all their entourage and agents with them and it was such a crazy thing to see go down. We even got to tour Snoop’s compound
He has a whole fun house; there was a bunch of hoverboards, an arcade, miniature casino and a basketball court. He has like ten recording studios. Its nuts.
I bet it was weird after seeing him in videos and TV for years
Yeah, exactly. You know his voice, you know his mannerisms. It was surreal and I got a photo with him at the very end of the day.
Was there a trick in Away Days that you were most stoked on?
There are tonnes man.
Like I said I got to film a little bit of everyone so I’m stoked for almost every skater there’s at least one trick that I filmed in their part that I’m super hyped and proud to have filmed like for example Miles Silvas backside tailslided the Le Dome Hubba, I got to film that fish eye.
That’s fucking sick, back tail Le Dome Hubba? That’s insane.
What other tricks are you stoked on from Away Days?
Same with Tyshawn and Nakel. Tyshawn Hardflipped the long double set, I got to film that at Le Dome. That was pretty sick.
How long did it take him to do?
We were probably there for like 25 minutes. It wasn’t too long
Woah, that thing is incredibly long for that trick
I mean Tyshawn can fucking jump. That dude is fucking gnarly.
I guess he went on to be SOTY
So sick. I mean it was cool to see him get on Adidas. We worked on his video called New Stripes; it was Tyshawn, Nakel and Miles, all getting on at the same time. That was pretty big because we were bringing on three people to the team, they were quite young and hyped.
What was it like seeing them all come up?
It was fucking sick. You know they had it. Nakel, Tyshawn and Miles, all three of those dudes, you already know they’re going to be career skateboarders. They were all so talented, right styles, they were just the right skaters in the right era. We knew they were the next ones in line.
It was really fucking cool, you film them and you know it’s going to be historic footage one day. You know with Tyshawn he’s going to shred forever.
Do you still keep in touch with Tyshawn?
I don’t see him too often but I do see him in New York when I’m out there occasionally. It’s cool I got to see him when he got on Adidas and go on his first trips and I was there to document all of his first trips and just know he’s going to be such a fucking legend you know.
He was a little dude when he got on to Adidas. I‘ve seen him grow, from little uncoordinated Tyshawn it has been so cool to watch him become himself. He’s always been authentic and true to himself but you knew every day he was unlocking more and more of his potential.
Yeah every week he was getting a new trick over a trash can.
Yeah tricks that shouldn’t be done over a can. How are you going to be able to Switch Backside Flip over a can? How does that even work!?
That was another standout moment from Away Days, watching them try their hardest to film proper full video parts. I filmed a lot with Alec Majerus as well at that time; he’s just fucking insane skateboarder.
Yeah, he looks like he lands his stuff quick
He lands stuff in five tries. He’s fuckin gnarly and he goes so big. I’m not used to filming people who skate like Alec. Its fucking dope and I love it.
I’m used to filming line skaters and ledge skaters’ – dudes like that you know historically, it’s the kind of street skating I like.
But Alec is just balls to the wall – He Tre Flipped 50-50 down the Stanford Hubba.
Big and tech
Yeah Back 3 a big set and then Frontside Boardslide a handrail.
What about filming Gonz, have you filmed much with him?
Yeah I mean I’ve seen him a couple times in the last few years. During Away Days was when I got to go on a few trips with Mark and I got to work on a couple smaller projects with him, where I was filming him in more intimate situations.
The Gonz Shot by Justin
Like at his studio in New York, filming him paint, it’s so mindblowing to be around that dude because he’s such a fucking legend and you know he’s like an otherworldly figure almost like you know. It’s like getting to hang out with a mythical creature.
It’s like he’s real? Hell yeah he’s real! It was like a pinch me moment
The Gonz is still putting himself on the line and going for it.
He’s gnarly dude. One of my most memorable experiences with Gonz was is in Atlanta on this rail that he feeble grinded for Away Days, it’s a weird rail, it’s like ankle height but it’s really long and he feebled it back in the day in Reel to Reel or Video Days, I can’t remember.
But we were there again on an Away Days trip on a Midwest tour and he was trying to Boardslide the rail and he was really slamming really hard, like it’s a gnarly boardslide, and yeah he was going for broke and I was filming him fisheye and I was like having an out of body experience.
The Gonz, Lay back, Shot by Justin
I was like dude this is so crazy, I’ve got the Gonz on the fisheye, he’s feebling this phat rail and it’s a historic rail that he did back in the day, it was a historical thing. I was tripping on that. I’ve had so many experiences like that with The Gonz but he also puts you at ease.
He’s such a fun guy to be around pointing the camera at him, he wants to get you stoked you know what I mean. He’s on point with all of the stuff that he does, he always looks sick, basically no matter what he does, everything about him is so visually interesting, he’s like a filmer’s dream.
Just a dude you can point a camera at and all of the footage you have after is will be gold, it’ll be classic. Just the memory of filming him fisheye for the first time makes me trip out.
Gonz, Rock and Roll: Shot by Justin
Yeah it likes you’re watching Gonz but live and your filming
Your following him, you know? Your two feet away from him and he’s like Ollieing and Wallriding and pop shuviting and you’re just like dude! I’m capturing this unicorn of a skater close up. Mark is always going to be skating.
I don’t think there will be a time in his life when rolling on a skateboard doesn’t make him happy.
The Boost the Bar events and things like that?
Yeah tonnes of stuff all over the world and we were greenlit to make four new city edits that were a throwback to the original Adidas city edits.
Which edits were they?
It started with Broadway Bullet, so that was all New York.
There was Mid City Merge that was all LA and London Meantime – filmed in London,
RŌZU which was Tokyo and the rest of Japan.
How did you get back involved working full-time with Adidas?
So what I did was I hit up Mark and I said, “Hey dude, let’s film!”.
At this point me and Mark were stacking; we’ve always been able to stack footage, so we decided to go film in New York.
So naturally, I was filming with Mark and I was like let’s make this a priority until Adidas gets their shit together you know. So that was the kind of the beginnings of Verso.
So you hitting up Mark was the catalyst for the Verso video?
We never fell out of connection. Mark and I were always filming together. I made the video for his second Adidas shoe.
We were always doing stuff. I was really proactive about staying filming and filming people that Adidas would obviously wanted to have been filmed, without them asking me to do it.
So I kind of took the approach of meeting up with skaters doing are thing and just saying fuck this. I’m not going to stop filming skating.
Mark and I started stacking clips in New York and during this time I was still reaching out to Adidas constantly and keeping them updated on what I was up to. Then at this time they started helping me out more and I was getting paid for expenses on a trip and put up in a hotel if I needed it.
Yeah so, for about a year, there was a bit of a limbo, mainly working for Adidas, still 85 percent of my time was working for them, regardless of pay.
I got a full letter headed contract from Adidas; a sign on the dotted line kind of thing. So this was a proper Adidas agreement. So I was like okay, I’m down. So I set up this office I have in San Francisco. I have my computer, my editing bay and nerd out on all the footage and where I communicate with Adidas and everything else I do.
Then at this point Paul Shier and all of those dudes – Shier got hired right after Away Days as a TM and was one of my main contacts at this point. Paul was behind it and fully supportive.
He was letting me fly wherever with Mark, we were doing one trip a month and stacking clips and after we got those contracts, it was a new beginning for the brand.
Yeah, you had this new energy and direction to go and film
We were just doing it because we love it and its’ super sick, that there was this huge company backing us. We were like you got the talent and I got the talent and we’re fucking good friends, let’s just do what we’re made to do.
So how long did Verso take to come together?
We were trying to stack as many high level clips for Verso for two years. But Mark is gnarly, so when he films twenty tricks on a trip we’ll use ten of those tricks. But that’s like a super productive trip.
So when it came to do his video part for his second shoe, a 4 minute Adidas part for the Suciu ADV2, he had footage for it.
So were they tricks, he was saving for Verso?
We made that video and that was stuff we knew wasn’t going into Verso. There were tonnes of good tricks but Mark. He’s like a scientist when it comes to this stuff and he just knows what his next video part should be and what tricks he wants to have in it.
After a year of that of these sporadic trips and just stacking clips with Mark, we knew we had a video part on our hands. That was essentially Verso.
So in the last year when we realised we had something special we just went ham.
I was filming all this stuff with my 16MM camera and it was all fitting together and all of this stuff was just falling into place as a result of our years of chemistry that we’ve developed through all these times filming Away Days, Cityscape and filming in San Jose.
Verso is just a culmination of all of those experiences that Mark and I have had. Like having that skater-filmer dynamic. As friends we’ve all seen so much of each other’s personal growth and maturity levels and professionalism. We click on that level.
We ended up walking out with something that I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to top.
What’s your favourite trick or moment from filming Verso?
For a lot of these tricks in the part Mark would do them and I would like immediately know that feeling of oh wow, no question that one is going in the video. That’s such a cool feeling. We would get some spontaneous stuff but he was on some strategic levels of destruction, worldwide.
Like when we went to New York and he would have seven different things that he wanted to film for the trip.
Every day we would go out and he would just check off the boxes like alright, day 3 we’ve got four of the clips we’ve got three more to go. There’s a million. I could go through this part and tell you a fucking sick memory from each of these clips that we filmed.
But for me Verso was a collective experience. This video part it means a lot to me because there was nobody hovering over my shoulder when I was working on this except for Mark.
Working on this part, everything up until this part there was someone above me at Adidas. I made a bunch of edits but they were always collaborative, they were never always my baby.
Yeah, it feels good to make something independent for yourself.
Yeah, that’s real shit dawg. That’s when it becomes a real thing and it’s not convoluted, well not to you at least. Not to the person making it, that’s what matters. As long as what you’re making is you’re not compromising on your vision, that’s what matters.
That’s what this video was to me; it was something that was uncompromising for Mark and me. We ran a tight ship on it and we didn’t let anything get in the way of what we wanted to do. Everything in there is what we both agreed was best for the edit.
So The Backside Noseblunt down the Blubba Hubba. How did that go down?
Yeah I wasn’t there for that trick I was there when Mark tried that one time when we both went to New York but I wasn’t there for that one because, there is a dude in New York called Matt Schleyer who helped me to film a lot of Mark’s stuff and for that one.
Yeah Matt and Torsten filmed it. Torsten happened to be in New York and he happened to film that clip. It’s the only clip that Torsten filmed in the whole video.
Sick, what a trick for Torsten to be there and have captured.
Yeah, I was hyped. I filmed his Back lip Kickflip though; he did that like 5 times. It was unreal dude.
What’s it like filming with someone as driven as yourself?
Mark and I get along well but just like anyone travelling and working with someone else is always going to be difficult.
I mean not to say it was actually difficult, as in hard, it’s just that we knew it was going to be a challenge. Because you’re both trying to get to the same place, sometimes it’s a conversation.
Sometimes I’d have things laid out in a certain way and he’d be like what about ‘this’ and I’d have to be like yeah but then it does ‘this’ and ‘that’.
Sometimes I’d have to convince him to see things my way and vice versa and sometimes I’d have to be like, okay, we’re doing it your way, this is your video part and I want to make this certain bit the way you want it and try to justify it in my own brain somehow.
There’s always going to be creative differences no matter how inline you are and Mark and I, know each other well, so I know what he’s down for and generally it’s totally fine but we were both extremely passionate about this project and that came with its challenges but when it came down to the last final couple editing days before the premier they were pretty sweaty, stressful times.
Yeah that’s all your effort and work coming together
Yeah and the whole chiasmus thing, have you caught on to that stuff at the end, with all the lines and tricks at the end being in a pattern, did you catch on to any of that?
Yeah, where he does mirror lines and tricks that was sick.
That was all Mark. Obviously I brought his vision to life in the way that I laid it out and the way that we filmed his clips.
But if you go to the Suciu-verso.com website you can see a website that someone has made where he’s essentially decoding Mark’s lines.
Pointing out the various similarities between the lines, it’s cool that they paid for the domain and the server.
It came out a few days after Verso was released.
This is incredible that someone has taken the time to create this
Yeah and that side of it the whole chiasmus, I wasn’t even sure if people would make the connection. All of these lines were pretty incredibly hard to get. It really came down to the wire to get these. The whole section was on the chopping block because we were running out of time for it to premier on Thrasher.
Well we said it would premier on there on a certain date but it never did basically.
We had a soft premier were this section wasn’t complete yet, we were missing the last Lenox ledge line at the end.
The final line with the Nollie Back Heel Switch 5-10 180 out.
That was the last trick we filmed, Matt Schleyer filmed that one for me. All of these lines are super hard and for three months after that soft premier we were trying hard to get this line. I went to New York a couple times specifically to get this trick and it didn’t work out.
But he went back on literally the final day where I was like if you don’t land this one, we’re going to end it on the Back Noseblunt and go to the credits.
I woke up that morning and I found out that he had got the trick. I got it in my inbox and I dropped it in the edit and sent it off to Thrasher and they premiered it a couple weeks later.
There are a lot of bangers in it. What was the reception like to the video on release?
The reception to the video part insane. There were some cool articles written about it analysing the fuck out of it, there was a really nice Jenkem piece. Thrasher did a by the numbers people really broke it down.
It’s all you want as a filmmaker is for people to look at your work, appreciate it and tell you if they think it is sick or not, analyse it. Make them think about it; make them feel a certain way.
That’s the most rewarding thing we do, just finding some element in a finished product and being product of what you’ve done and knowing that’s a snapshot of your life that you will have forever.
Sounds like it changed the way skaters anticipate online video parts from then on.
Yeah, the amount of hype building around it was crazy; I don’t like that amount of attention.
I’m not attention starved, I don’t need all this speculation just watch it when it comes out!
So your web series on Thrasher is called Flora – what’s it about?
So Flora episode one, I kind of filmed this when I was filming all of Verso. This was all of the stuff I was working on when I wasn’t on trips with Mark. That’s why it’s all local, it’s all in SF. For the first episode it’s all there but it will branch out.
Why did you start Flora?
It all kind of started because there’s just a lot of Adidas flow guys in SF, a younger generation of ripping dudes that Adidas fucks with that they been flowing for a minute.
Because I was working for Adidas I couldn’t film with all the locals and stuff because a lot of my time was split up between Adidas and Juice and travelling and stuff so as soon as Juice ended and I started freelancing. It was then I started to hit up these local kids and film them
They were all just kids I knew from being in the SF skate scene. They were not dudes I usually filmed with – they have their own crew and people who they usually filmed with but I just tapped them up to film them more professionally at that point.
I wanted to make something SF that was basically Verso but not just with Mark.
Yeah getting others involved in your personal filming vision
Yeah my mentality is basically the same as Verso. I want to take it to the roots and work with people who it made sense for the brand and for skaters on the come up.
Looking at the edit, they’re all young and they are killing it and are getting their names out there like John Dilo
John Dilo is gnarly. Yeah he’s stacked up some good shit for this video.
He can skate tech and go really big too.
Yeah his ender in this video is fucking gnarly the Switch Flip down the double set out here. There’s this insane church double set, that’s like this jumping off a mountain and he Switch Flips it.
Yeah it’s huge.
You just stack clips as a skate filmer and after a few months, I saw the potential with all these kids in SF and I was stoked to film them because it takes me out, it was more fun than going out on a skate trip with a bunch of pros, and getting clips and going back home.
When I was going out on Flora missions, we were out skating on the streets out everyday
Cool, yeah that’s a change in pace.
They were just chilling, they’re doing their own thing, they’re not stressing, and they are popping on the scene.
For Lil Dre it was his first proper project, I was just stacking all these quality clips of him, he comes from the phone generation, it wasn’t normal for him to work on a professional project like this.
Yeah, he needs to have a full video part
Yeah like a full video part of Lil Dre would be sick
What’s it like filming Lil Dre?
He’s got a real talent and style.
He’s a stylish skater and he’s one of those dudes you can tell that the older he gets he’s only going to get way better.
Yeah his skating is next level
He’s got some flair and flavour due in part to people he grew up skating with.
He’s been under Karl Watson’s wing since he was a younger kid. So he’s got a lot of proper influences out here to guide him along and I like to think I’m a part of that now and filming that first episode and shining him in this light versus what’s on his Instagram page.
He’s super famous on Instagram, his edits go off, that’s what he’s known for but it was cool to be like no! We are sitting on this footage for a year dude, you’ve got to stack some more!
They want their clips out but he totally understood and it paid off. He had a cool, solid presence in the video and shines in the video.
Dre has got a bright future ahead
That’s why kids are so into Instagram clips because of kids like Dre. I almost feel like he invented that category of the skatepark trap music edit. Make a hit at the skatepark. His shit gets viewed and he’s had a lot of influence in that realm.
Skating and filming him was sick. I have a lot of respect for him for putting up with my format and putting up with me.
Working with a new generation do you think it feels a lot different to skate and go filming with them?
No they are stoked in the same way I think they all want to strive for this but it’s just hard. It’s easier to go to the park and Switch Flip the 3 block and that’s your thing for the day. It’s way easier to do that versus going out street skating and getting a clip.
But when you do they get the same amount of validation and now that we have a thing to put energy onward it’s just going to make it stronger.
They know there is a second episode coming and they can still do their Instagram thing on the side. I’m not out filming with them every day.
Yeah, your making some more well- considered quality edits
And presenting it in a way that may get them more respect then it being thrown on social media. They are aware of it though. It’s all about the level of care. Kids are 50-50 about throwing stuff on Instagram or putting it towards a larger project. They are not lost on that.
Sometimes they need to get their priorities straight but they understand that making a longer skate edit is sick if you put in the time and effort.
Yeah Dre’s Back Smith, BS 180 out is sick, looks like he grabs it
Yeah it almost looks like he grabs it. He could of. He’s steezy
So are these the skaters who will be in the second episode?
That all gets figured out once I’ve stacked the footage. I’m sitting on the footage; I have two more episodes worth of content.
I’m also doing a part with Mark that’s going to be a Flora episode too.
Ok so it’s not going to be too strict about who’s in and who’s not
No. The only connecting thread is the fact that I’m doing them. You can really do whatever. I film with these guys and they’ll be back but it’s not just a single crew. I’d love to bring in more Adidas people who come to town but these are the core dudes I’ll be filming with for the series.
I also want to film some of the San Jose guys that I skated with when I lived out there.
Cool so it’s chance to experiment and try something new
Yeah. I’m down to get other people involved and I’m down to keep it organic. The way that the first episode came together was organic and so I’m just going for that vibe, knowing that I’m stacking clips with these people but its open ended ultimately.
It’s cool that you’re weaving together these new interesting sections for Thrasher.
I’m glad that Adidas is supporting what I’m doing and that I’m able to continue what I’m doing throughout this pandemic. To be honest to have a Web series on Thrasher, that’s probably the highest honour you can have right now as a skate filmer. What else would you want?
So what are you working on right now?
I’m working on various Adidas things now they are back online and I’m doing my personal projects that are still relevant to the brand and working with Mark on his next video part.
Look forward to it. Any last words Justin?
I don’t know really. I think it’s important to live day by day right now. Don’t get too wrapped up in all of the mayhem of what’s going in the world.Obviously it’s important to stay up to date into what’s going on and current events, that’s super important.
But now is a good time to stay close to what you love and stay true to yourself.
Now is a good time if you are a creative person to zero in on that and be creative and a great time to invest in that kind of energy.